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28-year-old woman learns she’s an African princess, and Disney’s making a movie about her

Ready for a real-life princess story?

Sarah Jane Culberson was born in Morgantown, West Virginia, to an African father and a white mother, but her parents were both very young and felt they were far too young to provide and care for a child, so baby Sarah was put into foster care and adopted by Jim and Judy Culberson, also of Morgantown.

sarah culberson princess sierra leone

Credit: Princess Sarah Culberson

Throughout her childhood, she wrestled with questions about her personal identity and wondered a lot about her biological parents. At the age of 21, she began to look for her birth parents.

She learned that her birth mother died from cancer when Sarah was just 11 years old. But her father was alive and living in a village in West Africa, so in 2004, she arrived in Sierra Leone to meet her father. It was then that she learned about her true heritage.

She learned that she was born Esther Elizabeth Kposowa in 1976 and that she’s a Mahaloi, the granddaughter of a Paramount Chief in Sierra Leone, the daughter of the chief of the royal family of the Mende tribe.

Sarah and her father, Prince Joseph Konia Kposowa
Credit: Sarah Culberson

Yes, Sarah Jane Culberson of Morgantown, West Virginia, is a princess. A Mende Princess of Bumpe, Sierra Leone.

“[The discovery] gave me a deeper sense of my identity as being someone who operates and straddles two different worlds and cultures,” Culberson said in a recent interview. “Learning about my history in Sierra Leone, my family, community, country, that makes a huge part of who I am.”

Credit: Sarah Culberson

In 2009, Culberson co-authored a book titled, A Princess Found, which tells the story of her childhood, her search for her birth parents, and finding out that she is Sierra Leonan royalty. It was then that her story got the attention of Disney execs.

Disney has plans to adapt Culberson’s book (or should we say, Princess Sarah Culberson’s book) for the big screen. Set to produce the film is Stephanie Allain, a former Warner Brothers exec who also worked as President of Production for Jim Henson Productions from 1996 to 2000.

 

Allain also worked on two different Muppets films, including Muppets From Space (1998), which grossed more than $127 million at the box office. She was also the first woman of color to produce the Academy Awards ceremony in 2020.

Disney’s film about Culberson’s journey to discover she’s a real-life princess is in the early stages of production.

About Becky

Rebekah ("Becky") lives in Dallas, Texas, with her family. She's a professional writer, journalist and children's author. She loves to write about all things Walt, Imagineering, Disney Parks news and events, parks history and architecture, Pixar and Disney animation. Between trips to Mickey's stomping grounds in Central Florida, Becky spends time with her four kids and her four shih-tsus and writes inspirational pieces, devotionals and children's books. Hey, if you dream it, you really can do it!